Part 1 of 3

We recently collaborated with Gerry Crispin and Elaine Orler from TalentBoard to host a live panel webinar featuring key talent acquisition leaders: Jen Powell of Deloitte, Stefanie Thornton of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Katy Jones of PepsiCo, Marvin Smith of Lockheed Martin, and Chris Hoyt of CareerXroads. It was a real crowd pleaser, attracting over 500 registrants.

We often hear about the importance of creating outstanding candidate experiences, but it’s rare that we get to hear practical insights or key steps organizations and HR managers have taken to continually improve the candidate experience.

Considering the large amount of insight shared within the webinar, over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing key examples and experiences from the webinar into three bite-sized chunks. Feel free however, to listen to the recording in full at any time.

Q1. When you first decided to make the candidate experience a top priority, what was the first thing you changed, added or improved, and why?

The general theme amongst the panel was the importance of recognizing candidates as more than just a candidate. More often than not, candidates are customers, potential customers, or customer influencers and their experience with an employer brand has a direct business impact.

Gerry & Elaine additionally pointed out that the annual TalentBoard survey is showing increasing numbers of people applying for each available job; for every successful candidate, there is a longer and longer list of unsuccessful people. With that, companies are starting to the do the math in terms of the business impact. They are starting to really listen and understand their target audiences, communicate on a more personal level and ultimately treat all candidates as customers.

What the panel had to say….

Stefanie Thornton, Director of Talent Acquisition, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan:

“Candidate experience was not just a HR imperative, but a business imperative for us. Of all the candidates coming to our website, we suspected that 65% were either current members, potential members, or members coming up for renewal. So we thought, if we are giving them a really bad experience, what does that do, and how does that translate when it’s time for them to renew their insurance? So we turned this into a business proposition. So when you’re talking about market share, the sales and marketing teams pay close attention. We really recognized this as not only a HR imperative but as an overall business imperative.”

Jen Powell, Senior Talent Acquisition Manager, Deloitte:

“Despite all the candidate experience data we had, we didn’t really know exactly what was motivating our candidates. We anticipated what freshmen wanted was quite different than a more seasoned professional… And so we carried out further research with different types of candidates that were our top hiring profiles to really understand better, what were their motivations, what did they value in an employer, what were the channels they were using to learn more about different companies, and so we were able to use that persona research very similar to a consumer marketing approach to then tailor our messages a bit more to the specific needs to various target profiles that we were recruiting.”

Katy Jones, Global Talent & Engagement Manager, PepsiCo:

“The thing for us was recognizing that with the size of our company and the number of candidates that we have on a monthly basis globally, we wanted to make sure that everybody was getting a touch point during the process and not falling into the black hole, if you will, that can often happen with larger companies. So we looked at how we could open up different lines of communication for our candidates, so when they had questions or who hadn’t heard back from somebody they could get in touch. So we went out and shared that with our talent acquisition team. So through twitter, through LinkedIn, giving them other opportunities to engage and really just a different way of going back and forth with them, giving them those channels and helping them with their questions. That was one of the first things that we did, and it made a big difference.”

Chris Hoyt, Partner, CareerXroads:

“I think many organizations realize that with all of their brands, their products, and the audiences they have, they know that a large proportion of candidates are actually their customers. So they really start to change their head in terms of how they are treating candidates. So when they start to do the math on hearing back that, while it may only be 4 or 5% that say they may reduce their purchase power, that adds up pretty quickly, particularly with sizeable organizations that are getting 10 to 50,000 applications monthly. That quickly adds up to a loss in the millions annually.”

Part 2 to follow next week, or if you can’t wait that long, feel free to listen to the webinar in full, or take a look at our latest Candidate Experience Infographic to see the data in black and white.